Posted on: January 21, 2012 5:45 pm

Patriots will beat the 49ers in the Superbowl!!

After an exciting divisional round, the NFL is back with a couple mouthwatering matchups. There are four teams remaining, and all of these teams deserve to be here. Thus, each team has good odds of winning the Super Bowl. The table below shows each team’s probability of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis next month.

As one might expect, the Patriots are heavy favorites to win the Super Bowl. They’re at 47.4 percent after routing the Denver Broncos 45-10 in Foxborough. The Pats have the best quarterback left in the playoffs inTom Brady and are led by mastermind Bill Belichick.

The odds for the 49ers and the Giants reveal an interesting difference between the conference round and the Super Bowl. The Niners are slight favorites heading into the weekend, primarily because of home-field advantage. However, they are less likely to win the Super Bowl than the Giants with a winning percentage of 18.8 compared to 19.0 for the G-Men. The difference is slight, but likely reflects New York’s success on the road.

The Ravens have the lowest winning percentage at 14.8 percent, thanks to questions on offense and a tough trip to New England on Sunday. Each team’s Super Bowl odds have improved significantly from the start of the playoffs, except for the Ravens. The Patriots improved from 16 percent, the Niners improved from 7 and the Giants improved from 2. The Ravens, on the other hand, have improved just 0.8 percent from 14.

This is a result of who the Ravens are playing this Sunday. New England will be a tough test for Baltimore, as the Patriots have a 68.7 percent chance of winning the game. The odds are stacked against them, but the Ravens can improve their odds significantly with a great defensive game or a good running game.

If running back Ray Rice rushes for at least 75 yards, which is possible at 38.6 percent, the game is nearly a toss-up with the Ravens winning 49.1 percent of the time. Baltimore’s odds get even better when Rice rumbles for an additional 25 yards.

If Rice rushes for at least 100 yards, the Ravens win 59.3 percent of the time. A good Baltimore running game controls the clock and keeps the Patriots’ offense off the field.

The Ravens’ defense was one of the best in the league all season, allowing just 16.6 points per game on 288.9 yards per game, but the Patriots’ offense is nearly unstoppable. Even if Baltimore holds New England to under 350 total yards, nearly 100 fewer yards than New England’s regular-season average, and forces one or more turnovers, the Ravens are still underdogs. If the Ravens can force at least two turnovers, their winning percentage jumps up to 57.9. However, that scenario is very unlikely at just a 12.8 percent chance of occurring.

Even though the Patriots are heavy favorites, the Ravens are more than capable of winning on the road behind Rice, but can offensive coordinator Cam Cameron call the right plays?

In the other game, San Francisco has a slight edge because of its playing at Candlestick Park, but that game is essentially a toss-up. The Pats are one Rice game away from a vacation. No one team is a lock to win or even make it the Super Bowl, and that’s what makes football great. This should be another spectacular Sunday.

Posted on: January 19, 2012 2:28 pm

All-Harbaugh Super Bowl?

Jack Harbaugh has said he doesn’t want to think too much about it. Archie Manning said the other day he wouldn’t want to even imagine it. Ask any parent and they’d probably shudder.

As sure as a parent would find picking one child they love more than another impossible, they’d struggle watching one succeed at the other’s expense. And that’s in any situation, let alone the Super Bowl.

Jack and Jackie Harbaugh are two games from going through the ultimate in human drama. One son, John, will coach hisBaltimore Ravens against the New England Patriotsin the AFC championship game on Sunday. The other son, Jim, will lead hisSan Francisco 49ersagainst the New York Giants in the NFC championship game a few hours later.

If both win, they’d meet in the Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis and, well …

“Of course you think about it,” Jack, who plans on watching the two games on television from his Wisconsin home, told the San Jose Mercury News. “It’s out there on the horizon. But you can’t get caught up in it.”

There is no sense in dealing with it until they must. The thought of an all-Harbaugh Super Bowl has to be so frightening they just turn their mind around onto something more pleasant. Like pretty much anything.

This isn’t a parent’s nightmare, such as real-life things that happen every day: sick kids, tragedies. Having not one, but two ultra-successful NFL coaches is a blessing and that’s what the Harbaughs have always said they focus on.

Still, the stakes of a potential Super Bowl matchup changes everything. The two teams met on Thanksgiving in a regular-season game and that was difficult enough. While it was part celebration of the family’s success – Jack was a successful college assistant and head coach – there was a game to be played.

Someone would wind up happy. The other disappointed. In this case, Jon beat Jim, 16-6.

Jack Harbuagh described it then as something “we just moved forward from.”

That was a regular-season game. There are plenty of those. The sting of defeat can be washed away the following week – indeed, Jim’s Niners rebounded to beat St. Louis 26 to zip.

This would different, the ultimate accomplishment in football. Winning a Super Bowl is the greatest professional moment in a football person’s life. It’s treasured and celebrated and serves as contentment for all the hours and all the sacrifice and all the challenges of the job.

Losing one is the exact opposite. It sticks with men forever. Even players and coaches that have previously won a Super Bowl or captured one later says the pain of the defeat never goes away. In many ways, the one that was lost overwhelms the one that was captured.

For the elder Harbuaghs, they’d have to sit and watch the greatest and worst professional moment of a son’s life, only at the exact same time.

And one because of the other.

Not only that, the pride and excitement of having a son win a Super Bowl would then be tempered, if not completely ruined. Having Jim or Jon hold the Lombardi Trophy would, no doubt, be something Jack and Jackie would revel in. What a glorious night for a parent.

Instead they’d probably be seeking out the loser for consolation.

The whole thing would be a mess.

“I can’t imagine it,” said Archie Manning, who as the father of Giants quarterback Eli and Indianapolis Coltsquarterback Peyton has sat through two so-called “Manning Bowls” where they faced off. Those games came in the regular season. Both sons have won a Super Bowl (and Peyton has lost one), so Archie has been through all the emotions – except the two playing each other in the big game.

“[The Manning Bowls] were not enjoyable for our family,” Archie said. “You realize that you are very lucky to have two sons in the NFL, but if you root for one then it’s like you’re rooting for the other to lose.

“Nobody liked it. We didn’t like it.”

And that was the regular season.

The emotional roller coaster of having sons playing each other was so profound that Manning called Jack Harbaugh out of the blue in November to see if he had any questions prior to the Thanksgiving Harbaugh Bowl.

His advice was to just get through it.

The Harbaughs did.

Any disappointment felt was temporary.

It won’t be if the two brothers meet in Indianapolis. No one will have any idea what that will entail.

Category: NFL
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